In 1996, a genetically modified sheep named Dolly was born. Two British scientists at the Roslin Institute named Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell cloned Dolly from a cell taken from a sheep’s mammary gland and inserted it into an egg of another sheep. It was then implanted into a surrogate mother sheep.
The birth of Dolly was a scientific breakthrough, particularly in the fields of biology and medicine. She became the very first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.
Her existence proved that the use of specialized cells could result in an exact replica of the animal that the cells came from.
Dolly wasn’t the first-ever attempt at cloning. She was just the first to be cloned from a specialized adult cell. All previous cloning experiments that turned out successfully were done with embryo cells.
In 1902, German scientists grew two salamanders from an embryo. Other animals, such as cows and frogs, were also created in labs before Dolly ever came to be.
When Dolly was born, the media swarmed her pen as everyone fought for a glimpse of the sheep.
She became something of a celebrity, posing for photos, starring in commercials, and being written about in magazine articles, much like Dolly Parton herself, the country music star the animal was named after. Because she was cloned from a mammary cell, it seemed only fitting that Dolly was named after the singer.
Dolly’s birth opened up a world of possibilities for scientists and helped to further stem cell research. It even led to the development of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), which has diminished the demand for embryonic stem cells in research and contributed to the process of regenerative medicine.
Dolly the sheep spent her life at the Roslin Institute, and aside from all the media attention, she led a pretty normal life with other sheep.